Category Archives: Random Musings

A Weekend Away And A Cautionary Tale

We spent the weekend at the Ritz, it was an extremely special treat for the family and the children loved every minute of it. I made the booking directly with the hotel who were ever so helpful. They noted our request for a crib and children ameneties . When the kids walked into the room they were delighted to find little gifts for them.

A gift from the hotel

A gift from the hotel

Checking out the view

Checking out the view

 

Ally wanted to go swimming IMMEDIATELY, even before we had unpacked the bags. We changed the kids and headed down to the pool.

Despite it being a weekend, the pool was empty. It was also COLD! The children didn’t seem to mind and were happily playing. This is when my worst nightmare nearly happened. I had gone to pick up some swim toys and the next thing I knew, I saw one of the staff about to jump into the pool fully clothed. Turns out Ally swam too far out and couldn’t reach the steps. She had misjudged the depth of the step, found that she couldn’t reach it and started to panic. Matt turned around in time to fish her out. The poor girl was very shaken, her eyes had that look of fear and desperation. As I hugged her close to me, I could feel her heart beat racing. The scariest part for me was the fact that it happened so quickly and quietly. You always read about drowning being quiet and yes, it’s true. In Ally’s own words ” I wanted to shout for help but I couldn’t because I couldn’t get my head out of the water”  Matt and I remained calm after the incident and Ally continued to swim, this time, she asked for arm bands and a float. I didn’t want to let my true feelings show but the thought of what could have happened shook me to the core.

The gentleman who nearly jumped in to save Ally. We couldn't thank him enough for his attentiveness towards our children.

The gentleman who nearly jumped in to save Ally. We couldn’t thank him enough for his attentiveness towards our children.

The staff stayed close to our kids thereafter. He definitely went above and beyond for us, for that we are truly thankful.

Our brave Ally who continued to swim after her huge scare

Our brave Ally who continued to swim after her huge scare

Luke our water baby

Luke our water baby

 

Max finally feeling comfortable in the pool

Max finally feeling comfortable in the pool

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Luke checking out the surroundings

Luke checking out the surroundings

He decided it was much better to sit and eat spring rolls

He decided it was much better to sit and eat spring rolls

The kids love staying in hotels because they can splash about in a bath tub. We only have a standing shower at home so a bath tub is a great novelty for them. The bathroom has the signature Ritz octogon windows which gives you a stunning view of the city.

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Exhausted from his swim

Exhausted from his swim

Our stay ended all too quickly and the children, especially Ally were reluctant to leave. All 3 fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Tired out after a weekend of fun

Tired out after a weekend of fun

 

 

 

 

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Empowering My Kids and Building Self Confidence

Ally turns 6 this year and Max will be 4. They are both at the age where we feel they can make certain choices on their own. A recent trip to the supermarket made me think about how I can empower my children and build up their self confidence.

We usually do a weekly supermarket run, this involves a long list and a huge shopping cart. When I do this run alone with the three kids, I need to plan and be strategic ie: be as quick as I can. Now that Luke wants to grab everything off the shelves, I need to shop even faster. Usually all the kids follow along and I ask them to grab items off the shelf as and when I see it. It occurred to me the other day that since Ally can read, why not break up the list and get her to help? After all we were in our local supermarket, one that she knows very well and it was quiet.  She looked at me with questioning eyes, and I said ” Don’t worry you can do it, I trust you”  When she heard that I trusted her, she took the list from me and walked off with confidence.

In fifteen minutes she was back, with all the items on the list. More importantly, she was so proud of herself! Soon after that shopping trip, she offered to order our lunch from the waiter and even queued up at the post office to buy stamps all on her own.

I hope small accomplishments like these will help build their self-confidence and teach them to be independent.

 

 

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Review of Puteri Harbour Indoor Family Theme Park- Little Big Club

I took the kids to check out The little Big Club at Puteri Habour theme park. If you’re not familiar with The Little Big Club, it features characters like Angelina Ballerina, Bob the builder, Pingu, Barney and Thomas. The main target audience is between 3-6 years old though we did see some tweens and a bunch of teenagers there as well.

Getting there: We went via the Tuas second link and followed signs towards Lego land. Once you drive pass the signs for Legoland, keep looking out for Puteri Harbour or the various Hello Kitty/Thomas signs along the road. Signage for the place isn’t as good as Legoland so drive slowly and keep heading towards Puteri Habour. The roads are very quiet as a lot of the area is still being developed.

Parking: There is an underground car park as well as outdoor lots , parking is free for both. Now, here is the interesting part, the theme park is housed in a very new building, so new in fact that the lifts from the basement carpark aren’t in operation yet. This means walking up the car park slopes to get to the ground level. Another thing to note, the turns in the carpark are quite tight and the slopes are narrow so if you drive an MPV, be careful.

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at the venue, its RM 65 per adult and child for the little big club only. We didn’t bother with Hello kitty town as the kids aren’t interested but you can buy a pass for both venues. Children under 3 enter for free. There wasn’t any queue when we went and tickets were sorted out quickly. We were also given a schedule for show times and character appearances. You can check out that schedule at http://www.playtime.com.my  do note that they are now using the weekend/public holiday timings as its the local school holidays.

The little big club is split into two levels, the first level houses Bob the builder, Barney, Pingu and Angelina. The second level is solely dedicated to Thomas.

Merchandise: There is a shop on the ground floor selling Hello kitty merchandise as well as merchandise from the other characters. Max was disappointed to find that they didn’t sell Bob the builder toys.  Each character had similar merchandise, water bottles, school bags, soft toys, stationary sets and T-shirts. Thomas had the widest range, after Hello Kitty. There were a few hair accessories in the Angelina section as well. As expected, everything came at a premium but that didn’t seem to stop many people from buying lots of stuff.

Shows: When we were there the Thomas show wasn’t available but we managed to catch Barney’s beach party. This is very similar to the free shows that we get at shopping malls. Barney sings old favourites like “Mr Sun” , ” If all the raindrops” and the ” clapping song”. The show wasn’t crowded when we were there,  both the kids managed to find seats in the front.

Angelina Ballerina: The poor mouse has the smallest space dedicated to her, just a little dance studio. Girls can go in, put on tutus, mouse ears and dance with Angelina. By dancing with Angelina it means getting up on stage and following a video, staff are on hand to help the children. Ally really enjoyed herself, she kept looking at herself in the full length mirror. Needless to say Max, Luke and I were bored while waiting for her. Angelina herself makes an appearance there, check schedule for timings.

All dressed up and ready to dance

All the girls waiting to “dance” with Angelina

Ally following the instructions on the video

Bob the Builder: This was the area that Max was dying to go to. It consists of an indoor play structure with Bob the builder characters surrounding it. The play structure is very similar to Amazonia at Great World City. Max at 90cm, found it a bit hard to climb up the structure due to his height but he managed with Ally’s help in the end. Kids are required to remove their shoes before entering the play area, socks are not necessary. There is also an area where kids can help Bob “build” a house. There are numerous soft “bricks” of different shapes and sizes which kids can use to fill up the walls in Bob’s house. Even though we went on a weekday, this seemed to be a very popular area with the kids that drew the most crowds . There was quite a lot of snatching going on with the soft bricks so parents of younger children keep an eye out for that. Bob and Wendy make an appearance just outside this play area as well.

Max was so excited when he saw these

The “wall” of Bob’s house that kids can help build with the bricks

He ran out of the play area when he saw Bob, hence the bare feet

Pingu: Pingu’s igloo houses arcade games which don’t require any coins. There is a little air hockey table which is the perfect height for the kids. There are also two basketball games and two “whack a mole” type of games. Pingu’s house looks a bit empty and was the least crowded but my kids enjoyed the simple games anyway. Photo taking with Pingu takes place in his igloo as well.

Barney’s backyard: This is the only place we skipped as its built for 1-2 year olds. The play structure is simple and toddler friendly. Children are required to remove their shoes before entering . Barney makes an appearance just outside this venue at various times of the day.

Thomas and Friends: This is where all the rides are! The first thing we sat was of course, Thomas the train. It’s a simple train that goes around the indoor play structure, both kids enjoyed it and we went on it several times throughout the day. We were very lucky with the crowds, there was hardly any queue so the kids got to ride in Thomas more than once.

Thomas’s eyes move as he goes around the track and of course that famous whistle sounds as well!

Next the kids went on Bertie the bus, it resembles a ferries wheel except everyone rides inside of Bertie. When I first looked at the ride I was a bit skeptical if I should let Max go on it with Ally. There are safety bars to help keep kids securely in their seats.

Next to Bertie were the bumper cars. This was the only ride that the kids could not sit as they needed an adult to accompany them and I had Luke with me. Each bumper car was designed to look like one of the diesel engines, it was really well done.

Max loved riding in Harold, there are 6 helicopters that go round and round which the kids can “fly” on their own. Each Harold seats 4, Max and Ally sat together at first but by the end of the day, Max was sitting alone and “flying” Harold all by himself.

There was also a “bounce and drop ” ride, similar to the one at Lego land except this was Colin the crane. Max was skeptical about the ride at first but he ended up enjoying it and rode it 3 times continuously.

There was also a little ferris wheel which seemed to do more stopping and starting then actually moving round and round. The kids sat on it once and lost interest very quickly.

The best part about this level is the indoor play structure in my opinion. It incorporates elements of Thomas and friends and it’s really very well done. The structure is similar to Kids Amaze at Safara , minus the shooting guns. At first it can look quite daunting but both my kids managed it with ease. Children below 3 will have to be accompanied by adults. There is a loft area above with comfortable arm chairs, Luke and I sat there while the older two played. You could kind of see your kids in the play structure but not if they ventured to the lower levels.

Part of the indoor play structure, James was actually a tunnel that the kids could climb into

Bottom of the play structure, more train designs and motifs.

Every parent’s dream, a comfy armchair to rest those weary legs while being able to keep an eye on your children

Other things to take note : They state that no outside food or drinks are allowed to be taken into the theme park. That being said, I packed water bottles for both kids which came in handy. Food inside the park is expensive and the service is slow. The food was very average in quality but you are kind of stuck cos there isn’t anything else available nearby. The cafe is located where Thomas and Friends are.

Toilets: Be warned that the toilets are not the cleanest, the crowd wasn’t so bad while we were there, I shudder to think what its like during the weekends. The toilet upstairs had no baby changing facilities, neither is there a nursing room around. I changed Luke in his pram and just used a blanket to cover him when he needed a feed.

It was surprisingly cold, I made the mistake of putting Max in a sleeveless shirt. Take a light jacket for the little kids. Both Ally and Max ran around so the cold didn’t hit them too badly but I felt cold while standing around waiting for them. Luckily Luke had a blanket in his pram.

There is ample seating on both levels, the cafe on the second floor has limited tables and chairs but there are benches around the various rides.

Most of the staff were very friendly and patient with the kids. They would greet the children, give them hi-5s or help them in and out of the rides. I was surprise at how helpful most of them were, it was a huge help to me as I was alone with the 3 kids.

Do note that the park is small, we spent half a day there which I felt was more than enough . If you’re going alone with kids like I did and you are paranoid about losing your children like I am, you’ll be happy to know that the entrance and exit for the rides are close to each other which means you just need to stand at one spot to keep an eye on your children. For the Thomas ride, the exit is further away so just take note .

Oh, one last thing, the place is LOUD. They play songs from the various shows at each venue so be prepared to leave with “Bob the builder, can he fix it?” ringing in your ears. The noise echoes off the walls especially upstairs where the rides are. I found the Harold ride extremely noisy and was just grateful that Luke could bear with it all.

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Reivew Of Legoland Malaysia

We took all 3 kids to Legoland recently, and unfortunately we didn’t take many photos. But here is my review of legoland along with some tips if you are planning to visit soon.

Getting there:

If you go via the Tuas 2nd link, its an easy drive. There are legoland banners all along the highway and just look out for the brown signs that says ” Nursajaya, Legoland”   Park as close to Medini mall as you can as access to the park is via the mall.  There are lots of parking lots ( all unshaded) and as for now, parking is free.

We purchased tickets at the park itself as I had discount coupons. My advice, buy tickets online as it took awhile to purchase tickets. We went on a weekday so there wasn’t much of a crowd and even then it took awhile to buy tickets. Malaysian citizens get a discount if you show your MyKad. No park map was given with the tickets which would have been very helpful.

The park is extremely hot as most people have already mentioned. The trees are newly planted but my guess is even when fully grown they won’t provide ample shade. Bring hats and sunblock for the children plus lots of water. It is very easy for the kids to overheat so make sure you offer them fluids regularly.

Food and Drink: As expected at any theme park, food and drink options are pricey. We didn’t eat in the park so I can’t comment on the quality of the food but from what I saw it didn’t look great. There were western options like pizza and pasta and some local dishes like chicken rice. Drinks were around RM6 per bottle. We took our own water bottles plus finger food, that saved us a lot of money. There are cheaper options at the mall just outside Legoland as well.

Gift shop: The prices of the Lego sets are about the same price as those found in Singapore. It’s not worth buying unless its a hard to find set.

Rides: Most of the rides were perfect for Ally who is 5 and about 110cm. There are lots of height requirements, children under 90cm will find more suitable rides Imagination Zone and Lego City. Max was very disappointed that he wasn’t allowed on many rides, even the fairly tame horse ride in Adventure land. He is 3 1/2 but on the small side so be aware if you have toddlers like him , they will be quite disappointed.  Check the website which provides the height requirements for the different rides, we didn’t and I regretted not doing so.

The weekday crowd was very manageable, we hardly queued for any rides, at most 5 minutes. I would highly recommend going during the off-season if you can. Remember the heat that I mentioned? Imagine having to queue up to 30 mins in that heat with young children, NOT FUN. As expected, the water rides and roller coasters were the most popular. The water ride has the tendency to be closed quite frequently so be aware.

Most rides will close when it starts to rain, and it can be quite a wait for them to re-open them, especially for the roller coasters. Once you see the roller coasters start to operate without anyone riding them, head towards the ride cos it means they are about to re-open. They do two test runs before the ride re-opens.

Play areas: There are a couple of play areas within the park, some are under the shade, others are not. They are extremely hot all the same. The shade blocks out the sun but it also prevents any wind from coming through which makes it very stuffy. It would have been great if there were fans underneath the shelter. Go to the play area later in the evenings when it isn’t so hot.

Babycare: There is a babycare room in Imagination Land. It is a quiet cooling refuge from the heat and crowds. No strollers are allowed inside though. There are high chairs, baby changing facilities and two breastfeeding areas. There are also several chairs and lego tables for young toddlers.

Legolands opens at 10am and their closing time varies depending on the day. There is very little chance to avoid the heat, unless you are extremely lucky to get a cloudy day. Take an extra change of clothes for the children, as well as the adults. I was dripping with sweat within ten minutes and could have done with a change. There is a drying station where the water ride is which is quite useful. For young kids, there is a little water area , the kind with jets shooting up from the ground. That would definitely provide some relief from the heat. Wear comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing, there is lots of walking to be done, something to consider if you are going there with young children. We brought our own stroller but there are strollers for rental at the park. Take note they are the hard plastic kind like those found in many theme parks like disneyland. Definitely not suitable for infants. Oh, don’t forget the mosquito repellant, Luke had a couple of bites and so did I.

I know it sounds like we didn’t have an enjoyable day but we really did. Both the children enjoyed it in their own ways, personally the park is great for kids aged 5-13. Max did have a great time as well , the driving school was a big hit with him, as was the train ride.  For the adults the various Lego creations throughout the park are pretty amazing.

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BYOW

Which means “Bring Your Own Water” by the way. We went out for dinner with the children had an unpleasant encounter at Bakerzin North Point.

I ordered food for the children and noticed that they charged $0.30 for water. As it was stated clearly in the menu, I had no issues with this even though I think its ridiculous. What happened next was even more ludicrous. Ally had the seafood pasta, we were told there were no clams and muscles today, okay that’s fine. When her pasta came I found a slice of sausage and a piece of red chili, no doubt from another other dish. It didnt matter much to us cos we’re not vegetarian but I can imagine how upset a vegetarian would be!

That aside, the dish was obviously spicy, Ally kept downing gulps of water with every bite. She finished her glass of water quickly and I asked for a refill. This is where the fun began. I was told that they didn’t provide refills, if I wanted more water , its an additonal $0.30 for a new glass. It’s not like I sat down and didn’t order anything, we each had mains and two cakes. And this was for a child! Not some adult trying to be cheap. I didn’t make a scene, neither was I rude to the wait staff, she didn’t make the policy, her company did. I did tell her how ridiculous it was and refused to pay for another glass of water.

We are definitely not going back there, you want to charge for water, fine , but don’t come and charge me for refills , that’s just ripping your customers off.

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The Motherhood Journey

Inspired by this post at Mum in the Making, I decided to pen down my own motherhood journey.

Nearly 5 years ago Ally made her entrance into the world, she was LOUD from day 1. I remember looking at her and not really feeling that instant bond which so many mothers describe. I think the epidural had a part to play in that. They whisked her away to the special care nursery after she was unable to feed. I couldn’t see her for the first 12 hours and it was only then did I realise something within me had changed. I loved that tiny little baby, it was the kind of love that I’ve never experienced before. At that moment I would have given my life for her, that was the moment I think I became a mom.

Due to Ally’s various medical issues, I read and researched as much as I could. While I trusted her doctors, I needed to be informed so that I could be her best advocate. I’m sure I’ve rubbed a few nurses and doctors the wrong way but I would do it all over again for the sake of my child.

Almost two years later, Max came along. Before his arrival, I had a few panic attacks, how would I cope with two young children? Would Ally be jealous? Am I depriving Ally of my attention? All these questions ran through my mind , I remember crying to Matt on several occasions ( this I blame on hormones) . Matt gave me the best piece of advice ever , ” don’t worry about things beyond your control, just take each day at a time”

And you know what? Once Max arrived, he blended so well into our family. It did help that he was such an easy going baby, happy to sit in his chair and watch the world go by. What a difference from Ally! And so I became a mom of two children under the age of 3. The first few months were difficult, trying to find time for each child, trying to put both children down for naps at the same time so I could nap as well…etc.

Now we had a girl and a boy, to most it seemed like we had the perfect family. As I watched the kids, I still felt something was missing. 2 1/2 years later, along came Luke! Once again I had the same panic attacks before he was born, once again I had those crying sessions with Matt. ( hormones I tell you!) My dear husband was so confident that all would be fine, that we would somehow cope with 3 kids under 5, that we weren’t in over our heads.

What has being a mom of 3 taught me? In one word, ” Simplify” . I don’t have the time to cook elaborate meals, my children aren’t attending enrichment classes everyday. I’ve learned that for everyone’s benefit and my sanity, we had to keep things simple. This means a daily routine for all of us, nothing is set in stone but our days are more or less the same. The children know what to expect, I’m not running around like a headless chicken and all of us are well rested.

People ask me ” how do you do it without any hired help?” or they make comments like ” you’re a super mom!” The truth is I’m far from that. I’m still learning everyday and I still feel like I am falling short most days. I’m very lucky to have an amazing hands on husband and an extended family of grandparents and uncles/aunts who are willing to help and who love my children as much as I do.

As MamaJ put it, it really is a roller coaster ride, one that I’m very thankful to be on. The children have shown me that I have a huge capacity to love , they have taught me beauty in simplicity and most importantly they have made me a mom.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Now that we’re in the midst of school holidays, I’ve been out and about with the 3 kids quite often. One thing that I am very grateful for is the kindness of strangers. Like the gentleman who helped me out when I managed to get Luke’s car seat stuck in the lift ( don’t ask!) or the auntie who offered to carry my tray of food after noticing that I had Luke in the baby carrier.

I’m always touched by these small acts of kindness and would highlight them to the children. I can only hope that my kids would one day offer their help to people in need. Remember the show ” Pay it Forward?” that’s what I tell the kids, that we’ve been on the receiving end and it’s time to pass that along to someone else.

On a totally different note, Luke’s curly hair has started to get him a lot of unwanted attention. Usually people come up and say ” oh girl?” and then I have to correct them. Other times they just come up and run their fingers through his hair without asking! It doesn’t help that he has chubby cheeks as well! Then we have the people who come up to touch his cheeks or worse, try and pinch them! With the recent rise in HFMD cases, I’ve become quite paranoid about germs so once they walk away I usually wipe his face clean. But I can’t say I blame them, all of us kiss those adorable cheeks several times a day .

Who can resist those cheeks ?

 

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